Safety First, BBQ Second: Key Tips for a Safe Memorial Day Grill-Out

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As Memorial Day ushers in the unofficial start of summer, you might find yourself eager to dust off your apron and fire up the grill. But, before you embrace the sizzle, it may be time for a quick refresher on food safety to ward off any unwelcome guests, like foodborne illnesses. With temperatures climbing, here are some essential tips to ensure your next cookout is both enjoyable and safe.

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Friends gather outside at cookout.
1. Check the forecast.

If temperatures are above 90 degrees, be sure to get those perishable foods back on ice within one hour (two hours if below 90 degrees).

2. Come clean.

Bring a jug of water with you if your picnic spot doesn’t have clean running water. Clean your hands before prepping your food and after handling raw meat. Wash utensils, counters and cutting boards with hot, soapy water.

3. Keep your cool.

Use an insulated cooler with ice, ice packs or partially frozen items to keep food at 40 degrees or cooler.

4. Pack smart.

Keep separate coolers for food and drinks. The drinks cooler will likely be opened over and over as drinks are pulled out. Keep your food as cold as possible until you’re ready to cook by keeping that cooler closed. Pack two platters—one for raw meat and one for cooked meat.

5. Use a thermometer.

Don't rely on the color of meat to judge when it's cooked enough. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature.

As you gear up for your Memorial Day cookout, remember that a little preparation goes a long way in ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all. By following these five food safety tips, you can confidently start grilling and savor the flavors of summer.

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